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Ten Takeaways from the Canadiens vs. Capitals game: Worst beats first

The Montreal Canadiens chased the eventual Vezina trophy winner as they hung on to beat the Capitals

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Paul Byron extension was a smart move.

Marc Bergevin gets a lot of heat for acquiring and keeping depth players. His knack for finding diamonds in the rough for the bottom 6 is overshadowed by his inability to bring in top flight talent but that's neither here nor there.

Paul Byron is a player that can help the team win when they sort this mess out.

He is an effective penalty killer, brings incredible speed to the ice and most of all, has the work ethic to back up the talent.

Yes, talent. Byron has a lot of it when it comes to his role and Bergevin was smart to lock up the 26 year old for a very reasonable salary. When the Habs right the ship, when the get a coach that can actually coach, Byron will be an important part of that team.

2. Jekyll and Hyde.

I don't know how to describe the way these Montreal Canadiens play.

They were DOMINATED by the Capitals early on. DO-MI-NA-TED. It looked like the Caps were going to roll over the visitors with ease. The Habs couldn't execute a breakout, they constantly turned the puck over. I counted 3 high danger scoring chances for Washington before the 5 minute mark of the 1st period.  Montreal got lucky, they weathered the storm and survived the onslaught.It could have been 3-0 Capitals with less than 5 minutes played.

Then suddenly, they were a different team.

They were defending well (for the most part, we'll get to that later.) they were active in the neutral zone and they created chances of their own. The in-game peaks and valleys is something we've seen far too often. Aside from them being consistently bad their inconsistency is a huge reason as to why they are where they are.

3. The Jekyll and Hyde theme continued to their power play.

Their 1st power play was a complete mess. They looked scared. Every time they touched the puck it looked like they were nervous about losing it. They were tentative and positioned poorly. Everything looked forced, like they were just loose and doing whatever they wanted.

Then suddenly, they were a different team.

They were organized. They were efficient. They had a plan and executed it.

They deployed Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty to the crease to mess with Braden Holtby.

They had Tomas Plekanec on the half-wall as the pass option.

They had PK Subban and Andrei Markov as viable point options.

The blast was dead on, straight to the net, no angle. Holtby was dead center and made a good save to keep it out but Gallagher was Gallagher and cleaned up the garbage with ease.

Please, pick a team. Either be great or be terrible. Stop being both.

4. Alex Galchenyuk is incredible at this.

Two goals. As misused as he is, Galchenyuk is an incredible talent who will only benefit from the eventual coaching change. He played 13 and a half minutes.

On his 1st: Do you know how hard it is to bat a tiny puck out of midair, bring it down to your feet, control it and turn it into a scoring chance? It's incredibly hard! Galchenyuk did it! That play was incredible. The skill (and yes, luck) involved was awesome.He followed his own play and made no mistake on a well placed shot by Dale Weise.

Speaking of Weise...

5.The rentals looked good.

On that same play that Galchenyuk dazzled us on, Weise was impressing his spectators.

He looked as good as I've ever seen him in a Habs uniform.

He was engaged, effective, smart and aggressive. He was offensively inclined too which I'm sure impressed the scouts in attendance. Hopefully he starts a bidding war and get the Habs a good return. Hopefully he re-signs at a discount because he loves Montreal and the new coach. I like Weise.

I noted that the rentals looked bad against the Predators, that wasn't the case last night as nearly every player that could be moved excelled.

It was Tomas Fleischmann's 1st goal in 26 games. Not bad timing eh?

Devante Smith-Pelly was aggressive and made a noticably good backcheck early on.

These players know that they have the chance to abandon ship and get rescued by a ship that is making the playoffs.

6. Victor Bartley struggled.

Did he ever.

He barely survived the Washington onslaught to start the game. He made a turnover so glaring it blinded the entire Eastern Seaboard. The Caps were pressing and Galchenyuk got the puck along the wall under pressure. He passed it back to a semi-open Bartley. Bartley tried to get the puck to Lars Eller in the slot (why he would put it in the slot, I don't know) (Phrasing). The pass was off the mark and way too weak. It went right to TJ Oshie. The Caps eventually got it over to a wide open Alex Ovechkin but the pass went wide.

On top of that play Bartley looked out of place. He has no foot speed and lacks the ability to match speed as defenders are entering the zone. That is an integral skill at this level. He was constantly pivoting and trying to stretch back to disrupt his attacker and it wasn't working.

It was his first game, I will give him time to settle in but initial impressions aren't promising.

7. I don't talk enough about how good PK Subban is.

It goes without saying so I don't say it. It's the little things that make him such a special player.

There was a moment at the very beginning of the 2nd period where Markov took a shot that went wide and careened off the wall to his side. Ovechkin went to meet the puck but PK was right there. What happened next blew my mind. PK got there first and instead of chipping it deep he fended off Ovechkin with one hand while kicking the puck to his open stick blade. Before Ovechkin could react PK took a stride and was clear. Insane.

8. Mike Condon? Jekyll and Hyde!


I liked Condon last night. He was poised and aggressive, He challenged shooters and held his own against the best team in his conference.

Then suddenly, he was a different goalie.

That blocker side. Orlov's goal was eerily similar to a goal he let in against Philadelphia. Waite has to address that.

The Caps' 3rd goal was just a puck he has to save.

He did make very key saves in the dying moments of the game, he stepped up when it mattered most.

9. They were fun to watch.

The games don't matter at this point but at least they're making them entertaining.

I'll keep watching to the end and it would be too painful for them to play like crap the rest of the way. Even if they lose more than they win...make it interesting.

10. One more game before the trade deadline.

It could be the last we see of...well...most of them. Who are you going to miss? Who do you want gone? Who do you want them to keep?